The alt-med controversy is often framed as a David-and-Goliath clash between small-time distributors of natural heath products, on one hand, and “big pharma” on the other. It is worth considering, however, that alt-med has become a lucrative industry in its own right, capable of engaging in the same abuses often associated with powerful pharmaceutical companies.
In Europe, draconian libel laws are increasingly being used to intimidate bloggers who question the validity of specific alt-med products or modalities. The most recent case involves the multinational homeopathy manufacturer Boiron and an amateur blogger in Italy. Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine writes:
There have been many cases now of big companies or organizations, or wealthy individuals, threatening to sue or actually suing a blogger for libel. The most famous case is that of Simon Singh who was sued by the British Chiropractic Association over comments he made in an article. Simon braved through the expensive and exhaustive legal process (which is especially onerous in England), but he is not just a lone blogger. He is a successful author and was writing for the Guardian. Eventually the BCA was forced to drop the case – but only after the blogging community rallied behind Simon, magnifying his criticisms of the BCA by orders of magnitude. By all accounts it was a PR disaster.
The blogging community as a whole is rather passionate about this issue. We exist on the premise of free and open public discourse about important issues. At SBM we take on many controversial issues and we don’t pull our punches when criticizing what we see as pseudoscience in medicine. So of course we take notice when a large company tries to bully a blogger to silence their legitimate criticism.
[Full Article at Science-Based Medicine]
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